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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: A preview look at the South Western Mustangs

Patrick Strohecker
York Dispatch
  • South Western is coming off a 4-6 season in 2016, going 3-4 in Division I.
  • Chris Heilman is entering his first year as head coach after Damian Poalucci resigned after last season.
  • South Western's top-two running backs from 2016 - Dalunche Shaw and Thaddeus Davis - are returning.

This is the 18th installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season.

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►Team: South Western Mustangs.

►Coach: Chris Heilman, first season.

►2016 record: 4-6 overall, 3-4 Division I.

►Key losses (2016 All-Stars in bold): Quan Marshall, senior, defensive end; Teian Moore, senior, cornerback; Nate VanCampen, senior, quarterback/safety; Drew Hartlaub, senior, wide receiver/defensive back; A.R. Reusing, senior, center; Bubba Carbaugh, senior, offensive/defensive lineman; Carson Perry, senior, linebacker; Tommy Aumen, senior, offensive/defensive lineman.

►Key returners (2016 All-Stars in bold): Delunche Shaw, senior, running back; Cole Stremmel, senior, linebacker; Kaiden Gaylord, senior, offensive guard/linebacker; Josh Higdon, senior, running back/linebacker; Shareef Jakes, senior, wide receiver/linebacker; Sean Wolfe, senior, quarterback; Logan Toms, senior, offensive/defensive lineman; Thaddeus Davis, senior, running back/linebacker; Wyatt Laudicina, senior, tight end/linebacker.

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►2017 schedule (Division I games in bold): Sept. 1, at Gettysburg (7 p.m.); Sept. 8, vs. Manheim Township (7 p.m.); Sept. 15, vs. Carlisle (7 p.m.); Sept. 22, at New Oxford (7 p.m.); Sept. 29, vs. Central York (7 p.m.); Oct. 6, at Red Lion (7 p.m.); Oct. 13, vs. Dallastown (7 p.m.); Oct. 20, at William Penn (7 p.m.); Oct. 27, vs. Northeastern (7 p.m.); Nov. 3, at Spring Grove (7 p.m.).

First-year South Western head coach Chris Heilman.

►Outlook: The most notable thing about the Mustangs in the offseason was that they were the only team in the Y-A League to make a coaching change, going from Damian Poalucci to Chris Heilman.

The transition for Heilman into the head-coaching gig from a longtime assistant should be eased by the return of a number of skill-position players. At quarterback, Sean Wolfe started part of last season as a junior and is the front-runner for the starting job as a senior. Delunche Shaw and Thaddeus Davis were the top-two rushers for South Western in 2016, so they should provide the Mustangs with a solid running game.

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However, if there's any glaring hole with this team it's up front, and that could limit the effectiveness of Shaw and Davis. Four members of the starting line graduated last year, so the front unit will need to be rebuilt.

On defense, Heilman expects the secondary to be athletic, which should lead to more takeaways than last year. The Mustangs had only 12 takeaways last season, the third fewest in the league.

►Quotable: "It's an honor to me to be in this position. It's very humbling to be able to do this and it's very exciting at the same time. It's something I always wanted and dreamed of. Personally, I'm super excited about the season." — Heilman

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com